Ford CEO Jim Hackett, who spent two decades running a Michigan office-furniture- maker, will be a keynote speaker at the Automotive News World Congress in January.
Ford Motor Co., amid concerns that it was not acting decisively enough to prepare for an era of autonomous vehicles and car-sharing, abruptly tapped Hackett to replace Mark Fields in May. Hackett launched Ford's Smart Mobility unit last year after sitting on Ford's board of directors.
Hackett's outsider status has spawned comparisons to Ford's hiring of airplane executive Alan Mulally in 2006. Hackett is charged with guiding Ford into an uncertain future, choosing the right areas to invest in and giving restless investors reason to bet on the company amid competition from Silicon Valley, where he has deep ties.
As CEO of furniture-maker Steelcase Inc. from 1994 to 2014, he led the kind of cultural transformation that Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford has been seeking, integrating emerging technologies into its products, adopting new design philosophies and encouraging more interaction among employees.